‘Changing Scottish census would erase biological sex’, academics say

Proposed changes to the Scottish census, including replacing the question about objective biological sex with one about subjective ‘gender identity’, are confused, academics say.

The criticism follows the Scottish Government’s consultation on the Census (Amendment) Bill, which also proposes adding a third gender option for those who identify as ‘non-binary’ – neither male nor female.

The critics say that failing to ask about biological sex would render the information it gathers meaningless, and would undermine planning in areas such as education, health, and criminal justice.

Undermining women

Rosa Freedman, a professor of law and a human rights expert at the University of Reading, said: “Conflating sex and gender identity will undermine sex as a separate category protected by law.”

Professor Freedman, who has been physically threatened by trans activists, added that sex-based protections for women in areas such as prisons, sports and healthcare, must be preserved.

“Each of these areas requires sex and gender identity to remain separate and distinct from one another”.

She added: “without accurate data from the census, we are concerned that these will be further eroded or undermined.”


Dr Kath Murray, of the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research at Edinburgh University, said “blurring” sex and gender identity “has implications for the protection of women’s rights”.

Kathleen Stock, a philosophy professor at the University of Sussex, said that the Scottish Government was confused when it conflated sex and gender identity, highlighting that a belief in something does not make it objectively true.

“There are white people that believe they are black. This doesn’t show that this belief that one is black is linked to race.”

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